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  1. #1
    FIGJAM lutan1's Avatar
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    Default Heroism Awards- Do We Need/Want Them?

    I've always struggled a bit with the heroism awards that are offered.

    Do we need them or want them?

    We do what we do for many reasons, to get an award is not one of them.

    When you read some of the background stories, some of them just reek of "what the hell were they thinking?!" This is especially true when you read the comments, posts and newsletters from Firefighter Close Calls and others on this site when we should be focusing more on FF safety.

    It's very much like the "hero" and "bravest" labels we get al lthe time....

    What's your thoughts?
    Luke


  2. #2
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    Smile I got an award

    Well, I got an award from both my department and Firehouse Mag.

    As I was driving down the street, I noticed smoke coming from the eves of a house. I stopped, called central dispatch on the radio and went to the door. After a lot of banging, I awakened the mother and father on the first floor and told them to get out. I then went up the stairs and awoke two kids and sent them down. Going back up the stairs I grabbed the youngest and probably pushed her down the stairs as the flames flashed overhead. All survived without injury.

    I did this without the luxury of gear.

    Hero? No, just doing my job and what I had been trained to do. I lost a little hair on the stairs but I have lost more since from natural causes.

    The citations are nice, but the real thing was when I later saw the father in the store and he thanked me.

    That's what our job is all about.

    Stay safe,

    Pete
    Pete Sinclair
    Hartford, MI
    IACOJ (Retired Division)

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber SteveDude's Avatar
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    It's something that is almost unheard of outside of the Military in the UK...and even then apart from campaign medals such as Northern Ireland, Falklands or Gulf medals it takes a real outstanding event to get anything else.

    In the Fire Service, apart from the Queens Long Service and Good Conduct medal, Jubilee medal (awarded as a one off in 2002 for her 50th jubilee) and the Queens Fire Service medal for very senior Chiefs there is only the Queens galantry medal. That is awared after singular acts of bravery that are well beyond the call... The Officer who was killed at the Kings Cross Underground (subway) Fire in 1987 was posthumously awarded that, he managed to rescue several people after he had been engulfed in the fireball and went back for more even though he was burnt, he was found with some other people near the stairs to the street.

    Only a handful of Firefighters have ever been awarded the George cross (Civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross) and just like the VC most of them didn't live to see it.

    In the LFB we have 'Honours and awards' where you may get a letter of congratulation from the Chief Officer for bravery or a Chief Officers commendation for exempilary Bravery..... These get issued at a ceremony held from time to time, despite the hundreds of rescues from 1000's of incidents every year. Im my time I have only known a handful get the Queens Gallantry medal and I believe the last London Fireman to be awarded the George Cross was in 1947. This Fireman, althoug 'on fire' kept going from the head of a ladder into a blazing room to rescue Children in Harlesdan North West London. Finally after getting the last child he fell, in flames, to the ground and died.

    I guess traditionally we British do not really go in for the whole recognition of bravery outside of the Military. A damn shame that we don't make more of a song and dance, then maybe when we ask for better conditions they would grant them if we sung our own praises louder.

    But it would take a miracle to overcome the 'Just doing my job' mentality.
    Last edited by SteveDude; 12-15-2004 at 04:54 PM.
    Steve Dude
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  4. #4
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Arrow Nothing wrong with awards

    My department currently has an awards program in place. Although we have awards available for all sorts of things (including valor & bravery), only two types have been awarded (I believe) to members of the fire division -- lifesaving and good conduct.

    The department awards a lifesaving award for any action that prolongs a human life. A few of the reasons I know of include a couple were for successful saves on cardiac arrests, one for a save on an infant choking and a couple of others for quick action on victims with severe trauma/bleeding. The good conduct medal is awarded for an employee with five years of good behavior, no severe disciplinary problems, no suspensions, etc.

    I have no problem with the awards program. I know that none of my brothers are in this job for the few bucks the city pays for the medal or for the small mention they may get in the newspaper. However, it is a good way to recognize those within the department that have done a good job... It's a good way to higlight those days when things went really well.

  5. #5
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    While I am an advocate for all things as safe as we can make them, sometimes we do push envelope.....and while we do it for the self satisfaction, knowing we made a difference, etc., etc,. I think in these instances that have extreme circumstances we should be recognized.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
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    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  6. #6
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    how can i post this to make it politically correct???? hmmm....

    What's the difference between a hero and an unneccesary victum at an incident? the hero lives to tell about it.

    I'm all for award, recognition of bravey, life saving, whatever. but for all the heros we have, keep in mind how easily something could have gone wrong and they could have added to the LODD and NLODD count.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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  7. #7
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    ya,..............thats knida what I am saying .......
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    As long as the younguns aren't setting this as a goal or nominating petitions aren't being embellished to exact an award, I see nothing wrong with recognizing extraordinary efforts.
    But to weigh in on the safety side, I, too agree that Luck and the Grace of God has kept some recipients from being LODD.
    I think it would be nice if the fire service had awards for safety.
    You know; they did everything safely for a positive outcome. Sort of like the boards at factories that say: "We have worked 5 years without a serious injury".
    CR
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  9. #9
    Forum Member stm4710's Avatar
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    I know both of the 1984 Firehouse winners very well and one is is a good friend of mine. He is a good example of someone who was doing the "job" when I was still in diapers.

    Thier situation they went above and beyond to the call of duty to avoid a catrosphic explosion in a chemical plant.
    In the short condensed version:
    Thier was a disconnected propane vent line from a propane truck off loading cargo into bulk tanks , the leaking propane flashed back to boiler room and caused massive explosion and fire. The fire was impinging on the truck, a bulk tank of bunker c oil rupterd from the explosion causeing the ground to become coated in oil . After an hour and half of fighting the fire, they realized only the " king" valve on the bottom of the truck could stop the propane fire. The chief orderd all streams to be put on the tanks as two firefighters crawled under the flamming propane tank with a hissing safety valve and they managed to shut off the master vavle. Thier actions caused the propane to stop leaking and the tank be cooled so they could put out other fire in the chemical plant. They surely saved not only the firefighters from the 13 departments working at the scene from an explosion, but also the residents of the town from haveing toxic chemical released by a massive explosion.

    They dont talk about it much, or bring it up, they did it cause it had to be done........the mark of a true hero.
    Last edited by stm4710; 12-15-2004 at 11:30 PM.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  10. #10
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    Most of the Medals that we give out are awarded by a committee of our peers.That (to me) makes them a little more special,being recognized by my Brothers.

    We also have an awards ceremony (with the PD)every year.That's kinda nice for our families to see us get some recognition for what we do.

    I also think it's a great public relations thing,leting the public know a little more about what we do.That can't hurt us at budget time!

  11. #11
    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    I think it is important to recognize those who go above and beyond the call. However, I have seen medals given out for some pretty marginal things. They should be given out for pure heroism. Not for political reasons.
    IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

  12. #12
    Forum Member jerrygarcia's Avatar
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    I do see awards as a compliment from your peers. I don't like to see awards for everything in the world(routine calls), so it has to be closely regulated by a panel of discerning peers. Awards are for going 'Above and beyond' the call of duty. What is routine in my district, is 'Above and beyond' in other outlying districts. I have a handful myself, but do not wear them on dress uniforms because what we do in those occasions is SOP. But I do feel the need for them as a whole.

    All apparatus carry AED's. We award for all conversions.

    My driver won Firehouse Rescue award a few years ago. "Above and Beyond".

    Here is another good example of a well placed award from some of my brothers.

    Kansas City Fire Fighters Receive Benjamin Franklin Award for Valor for Saving Paramedic




    Fairfax, Va., - 12 Aug. 2004 - Six members of the Kansas City (Mo.) Fire Department (KCFD) have been selected as the 2004 winners of the International Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor.

    This award, co-sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Motorola, Inc., will be presented at Fire-Rescue International, one of the largest annual fire and emergency services conferences and expositions in the world. It will be held Aug. 12-15, 2004, at New Orleans' Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

    The six department members-Captain Patrick Martin, Captain Phil Atwood, Fire Fighter Marvin Donaldson, Fire Apparatus Operator Sean McKarnin, Fire Fighter David Bradley and Fire Fighter Stephen Johnson-were selected for their bravery and heroism at the scene of a house explosion and fire in Kansas City. On Feb. 23, the fire department, police department and Metropolitan Ambulance Service Trust (MAST) were responding to the scene when they encountered gunfire coming from the west side of the street. Shortly after the shooting began, MAST Paramedic Mary Seymour sustained two wounds to the chest and collapsed on the street.

    After gathering EMS equipment, the KCFD fire fighters crossed nearly 100 feet across open space to reach the victim. During their rush to reach Paramedic Seymour, they encountered almost constant automatic gunfire. Two police officers returned fire in a successful attempt to distract the shooter. The fire fighters controlled Paramedic Seymour's bleeding and administered oxygen, and then carried her back across the open area to a waiting ambulance.

    Because of the quick actions of the KCFD personnel at the scene, Seymour survived her injuries. For their valiant and selfless acts above and beyond the call of duty, these six members of the department have been awarded the International Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor, the highest honor bestowed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. On behalf of the entire Kansas City Fire Department, Chief Richard "Smokey" Dyer will accept the International Benjamin Franklin Departmental Leadership Award in recognition of the department's professionalism, service to the public and contribution to the fire service.



    It wasn't commonplace to here a thank you from anyone until the events of 9/11. Yet, a 'Thank you' from your peers for a job well done has great impact.



  13. #13
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    Taking away awards and medals will not stop unsafe acts.

    And to save a life, well that is the time you "should" being going above and beyond. We constantly get abused here for risking a lot for a little (property). But believe it or not, thats why we are here. I am not advocating suicide missions. Nor unnecessary risks for property. But the people of your community EXPECT you to come get them. Thats why they pay their taxes.

    As far as the awards go. TRADITIONALLY (there you go Bou, I said it) they have been a way to recognize our peers for doing the right thing. And sometimes those awards will be made to guys that were almost LODDs. But they weren't, and they used their training and ability to overcome extreme odds to save a life. To me that deserves recognition. In a day and age where every budget gets questioned, and staffing is being cut, its a great way to show the people what we do, and how we feel about thouse that do it.

    Anyway, thats my story......

  14. #14
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Not a fan of awards. I got 2, felt kind of foolish getting them as I really felt (and still do) that all I did was what we are supposed to do. Saw (and still see) no need to receive an award for it.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  15. #15
    Forum Member HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jerrygarcia
    After gathering EMS equipment, the KCFD fire fighters crossed nearly 100 feet across open space to reach the victim. During their rush to reach Paramedic Seymour, they encountered almost constant automatic gunfire. Two police officers returned fire in a successful attempt to distract the shooter. The fire fighters controlled Paramedic Seymour's bleeding and administered oxygen, and then carried her back across the open area to a waiting ambulance.
    ok, I'm not trying to downplay the selfless actions but what is the situation had played out like this?
    After gathering EMS equipment, the KCFD fire fighters crossed nearly 100 feet across open space to reach the victim. During their rush to reach Paramedic Seymour, they encountered almost constant automatic gunfire. Two police officers returned fire in a unsuccessful attempt to distract the shooter. One captain and two firefighters were shot and died at the scene, and a forth was shot and transported by helecopter to a trauma center in critical condition. Paramedic Seymour was also transported to the trauma center by helecopter.
    quite a different outcome, eh? and do you think medals will be given out, or an investigation as to why these firefighters (not cops) entered a unsecure scene under known gun fire?

    Last I checked, our safety comes first. EMS is taught in EMT class that you need to wait for a scene to be safe until you enter and begin patient care. basic firefighter training teaches the same. you didn't cause the emergency, and you are no help if you become an additional injury.

    I'm all for medals for EMS saves and rescues from fires. same for those instances were stuff you are trained to do results in saved lives, especially when done under unusual circumstances (like what STM said). but do we really want to encourage our newbies (who look up to those that recieve the medals), to go against their training, put their lives at risk, and take chances on the hope that the ends justify the means? and if you think they won't in hopes of being like the "hero", your just kidding yourself.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Why would you not want to recognize someone who had made a save or went above and beyond for a life? Of course it is our job, and you may feel silly, but if someone does outstanding work they should be recognized. And I doubt most of us do what we do for a medal or recognition but if you do you are in it for the wrong reasons.

  17. #17
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    Last I checked, our safety comes first. EMS is taught in EMT class that you need to wait for a scene to be safe until you enter and begin patient care. basic firefighter training teaches the same. you didn't cause the emergency, and you are no help if you become an additional injury.
    Very true. However, if your options are to sit and watch a sister in the emergency services die or to forumlate a plan to rescue her... Which do you do? Me? It'll be the latter. That's not about glory or medals. It's about doing what we do. It's about saving a human. It's about risking a lot to save a lot.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber ROOKIELZ's Avatar
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    Canadian VFF's have a bravery medal. I had tried once in the past to get it awarded to 5 of our FF's. What it all came down to (on paper) was "why you think you are braver than everyone else who is putting in for the medal." I had citations from the local Doctor, the Mayor and the owner of the building adjoining the scene, trying to get these guys their medal. I don't think the FF's themselves should have to attest to their skills like this. In the end, I withdrew the application because the FF's were embarrassed that I had even put an application in for them. They certainly were not going to ask for it for themselves. The civilians mentioned had asked about the medal and tried to get it for their FF's. The problem was the VFF Administrative Board; somehow either myself or the board missed the point of the Bravery medal.

    I think the idea is OK in theory; I just don't think that a FF should be applying for it themselves. It is more than a little derogatory to have to point out the obvious. Now when community members apply for their FF's; I consider that to be a whole different story. When a community feels their FF deserve a medal I think the FF's should take what little sunshine they can get from John Q. Taxpayer. It's a sign of FF appreciation. But that's just MY .02.

    I feel bad that I couldn't get the medal for the FF's; they did a super job.

  19. #19
    Forum Member jerrygarcia's Avatar
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    That paramedic is a long time friend in our engine house. She was married to one of the firefighters in our house. That is family! There was no one trying to be a hero, it's a family thing. All of those firefighters also knew her well and knew who it was lying there.


  20. #20
    FIGJAM lutan1's Avatar
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    Wow! I'm stunned by the number of responses to my original thread....

    Got some good feedback and ideas from everyone- keep it going
    Luke

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